Australian doctors and infectious disease experts have called for federal and local governments to renew focus on the coronavirus pandemic ahead of an expected winter surge.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA), the country’s peak medical body, warned on Friday that with the ongoing spread of Covid-19 and the resurgence of influenza the winter will be “the worst it has ever been” for the health system, reports Xinhua news agency.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet state and territory leaders at the national cabinet on June 17 for the first time since he took office.
AMA President Omar Khorshid said it was critical that the meeting focused on coming up with a new strategy to ease the Covid burden on the health system after the pandemic was largely ignored on the election campaign trail.
“I want to get back to a situation where we have a considered, coordinated and preferably nationally consistent response to the pandemic,” he told Guardian Australia.
“The pandemic is not over and our health system is struggling, partly due to the ongoing effect of the pandemic. It is the worst it has ever been … and it will be worse (than last winter) because we will have flu and Covid in every state and territory.”
Australia reported more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections and over 30 deaths on Friday.
There had been 8,919 total coronavirus deaths as of Thursday, more than 6,500 of which have occurred in 2022.
Infectious disease experts on Friday criticized Australia’s systems for collecting Covid data, saying they were poor and fragmented.
A coalition of experts said a national data system should be established rather than continuing to have each state and territory report its own data.
The federal government announced on Thursday that people aged 12-15 who are at risk of severe disease will be eligible for a coronavirus booster vaccine from June 14.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has not recommended booster doses for all teenagers, saying otherwise healthy people in the age group remain well protected from two vaccines.
As of Friday, Australia’s overall Covid caseload and death toll stood at 7,571,627 and 8,957.